With so much of our modern world and its infrastructure reliant on space assets – from navigation to telecommunications, earth observation, environmental monitoring and weather forecasting – we have become vulnerable to many threats that could have economic and national security consequences. The UK government policy on space security published in 2014 sought to meet these challenges by making the UK more resilient to disruption of space assets whilst enabling UK industry and academia to exploit science and grasp commercial opportunities in support of national space security interests.

The UK is not alone in seeking to ensure effective, reliable and efficient access to space-based capabilities and promoting its own industrial and academic science & technology base. The UK has many successful companies and university groups contributing to innovation and wealth creation, continually punching above its weight with industrial turnover running at almost £12bn per year.

Space is the ultimate ‘global commons’, and its use and exploitation is governed by UN treaty. But in recent years the problem of space pollution, including debris from accidental and deliberate satellite destruction, as well as concerns over hostile counter-space programmes (e.g. navigation jamming, communications interception), has become a cause of concern.

The lecture will address these and other issues in space security. It will consider ways in which a safe and secure space environment can be sustained and how we must work with partners and the wider community to promote codes of conduct. It will also explore opportunities for UK industry and academia in space security.

A reception will follow the talk in the seminar rooms opposite G16.


David Willetts is Executive Chairman of the Resolution Foundation and a Visiting Professor at King's College London. He is Governor of the Ditchley Foundation and a member of the Council of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and was appointed to the House of Lords in August 2015.

He was Minister for Universities and Science, attending Cabinet, from 2010-14. He was the Member of Parliament for Havant from 1992-2015. Before that, David worked at HM Treasury and the Number 10 Policy Unit. He also served as Paymaster General in the last Conservative Government.

David has written widely on economic and social policy. His most recent book 'The Pinch' was published by Atlantic Books.

Booking for this event has now closed.